While it may look tough and pugnacious, the 2014 Scion xD is pretty conventional from behind the wheel. Its 128-horsepower, 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine is hardly the stuff of tuners' dreams. It's decent enough with the standard five-speed manual gearbox, but if you want an automatic, you get an ancient four-speed model with wide gaps between gears that make it feel like it's out of breath at freeway speeds.
So the xD's tuner cues are more visual than actual, and it's not in the service of fuel economy, either. The Scion xD falls toward the bottom of the subcompact class in terms of EPA gas mileage ratings. Choice of gearbox doesn't matter; all Scion xD models are rated at 29 mpg combined (27 mpg city, 33 mpg highway). In a model year when five-door minicars like the Chevrolet Spark and Mitsubishi Mirage get 34 to 40 mpg combined, the xD is just subpar.
Nor is the handling particularly pleasurable. It's a world away from the tossable feel and crisp reflexes of many of the smallest cars on the road, including the Fiat 500, Ford Fiesta, and MINI Cooper. The suspension is soft, which gives a good ride quality and handles choppy and broken road surfaces well. The rear drum brakes also don't support the sporty styling; they work well, but they're a low-rent fitting.
That's fine for slow, undemanding use--but push it even somewhat hard, and the suspension just wilts, producing lots of body roll and giving the steering a rubbery feel. Part of it may be weight; while it's small, it drives as if it were a much heavier (and somewhat underpowered) car. And while lots of aftermarket suspension parts are available to improve the handling--including some from the huge accessories stock at any Scion dealer--it comes at the expense of ride quality.